The chief executive at the Workers' Compensation Board of Alberta took home nearly $900,000 last year, twice the amount paid to his counterpart in Ontario and a greater-than-40-per-cent increase over his salary five years ago.
This week's release of the 2015 compensation paid to WCB president Guy Kerr is part of the board's attempt to comply with the province's new public sector salary disclosure requirements. It comes amid a government-ordered review that will look at how the WCB sets executive pay.
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The document lists Kerr's pay as $742,000, plus another $154,000 in perks and benefits, for a total of $896,000. That's a 43-per-cent jump over the $628,000 he was paid in 2010.
Kerr earned more than double the $400,000 paid last year to the chief executive of Ontario's Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, a much larger organization.
Board chair James Kindrake was not available for an interview about Kerr's rising pay, but a summary from a 2015 board meeting says executive pay at the WCB is benchmarked annually against other public sector bodies and financial services companies across the country.
Another meeting summary from the board of directors this year notes the WCB was able to meet the "vast majority" of its 2015 corporate objectives on which bonuses were based.
"[The board] is fully funded, has the lowest premium rates in Canada, achieves superior return-to-work results and is seen as a leader in relationship and decision fairness," the summary said.
The disclosure documents also show the WCB's cadre of five vice-presidents took home a combined total of nearly $2 million in 2015, with salary and benefits packages ranging from $468,000 to $629,000.
Wildrose finance critic Derek Fildebrandt questioned whether the province's workers and employers share the board's rosy view of the WCB's performance or the compensation packages taken home by top officials.
"We're paying a chief executive just south of a million dollars a year to oversee a dysfunctional bureaucracy that collects more premiums than it needs to and is notoriously difficult to deal with," Fildebrandt said.
"It raises questions about how appropriately we're compensating executives and whether these salaries aren't too high in the province's current economic climate."
The three-member panel charged with completing the province's first comprehensive review of the WCB in 15 years is expected to deliver an interim report this fall, submitting its final findings to the government by this time next year.